Drilon pushes for Senate probe into China’s militarization
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Sunday pressed the Senate leadership to conduct an inquiry on China’s militarization in the West Philippine Sea, saying the chamber should look into Manila’s “appeasement policy” toward Beijing.
“We are calling on the leadership of the Senate, Senators [Vicente] Sotto and [Loren] Legarda, to hold committee hearings on this issue so we can hear from experts on what we should do in terms of a peaceful pursuit [of our claims] over the West Philippine Sea,” Drilon told dzBB radio.
He said the Duterte administration’s policy geared toward appeasing China was not working anymore, rendering ineffective the Philippine victory in the United Nations arbitral ruling invalidating China’s expansive maritime claims.
“This so-called appeasement policy has no effect on the economy,” the Liberal Party senator said, citing the case of Vietnam, which also has overlapping claims with China in the South China Sea.
“Vietnam has openly defied China, but they still have huge investors. Almost $2 billion of foreign direct investments came from China to Vietnam. Their tourism is four times larger than ours,” Drilon said.
He said he wanted to hear President Rodrigo Duterte identify ways by which the Philippines would be able to reclaim islands seized by China in the West Philippine Sea during his third State of the Nation Address on Monday.
Drilon also asked his colleagues to look into the situation.
On June 15, Legarda, chair of the foreign affairs panel, said her committee would launch an inquiry on China’s activities in the disputed waters, including its purported installation of missile systems.
“We will soon conduct a public hearing and I will work with my colleagues, including the committee on national defense and security, in determining how best to support current initiatives to diffuse the tension, while at the same time protecting our sovereignty and territorial rights,” she said in a statement.
But it was not clear when this would be tabled.
Sen. Gregorio Honasan II, chair of the national defense and security panel, earlier said the Senate leadership had decided to let Legarda’s panel take the lead in such inquiries.
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